Public Critiques are Somehow Less Anxiety Inducing…

Another thing that has kept me from posting recently was a visiting artist event in which I was involved.  Although this one I didn’t know I was participating in until nearly the last minute…

FSU brought in Stuart Horodner as part of our visiting artist lecture series.  He’s the boss man in charge at Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, and just recently published The Art Life:  On Creativity and Career (Which was a really good book by the way), and one of the faculty arranged for public critiques to happen.  Four grads were selected to have their work reviewed by Stuart, but we didn’t get told about it until a week before it was supposed to happen…

As I’m sure you can imagine, that was a little stressful.  I was less worried about the actual critique then I was about figuring out how to install my work in the gallery.  It was chaos for a little while… I had to go buy TVs and export videos several times, battle difficult projectors, paint things, oh and I had to read the book…  But it turned out just peachy keen in the end.  I showed an updated version of my Bending the Break/Breaking to Bend video, with a new audio component, and Fairy Tale Logic.  Bending the Break/Breaking to Bend was pretty much installed as I had it installed at Working Method back in January, but I finally got to install Fairy Tale Logic the way I’ve always wanted to… On two monitors!

Fairy Tale Expectations, Video Installation, HD Video, 2012
Fairy Tale Logic, Video Installation, HD Video, 2012

As a really awesome bonus, Craig Drennen, who is currently a studio artist at Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, an instructor at Georgia State, aaaaaand the dean at Skowhegan, came down with Stuart to participate in the critiques.  While my peers may or may not agree with me, I had a really great experience.  The main thing that I wanted to get out of the crit was that someone, outside the hermetically sealed environment I have here at school (yes, that may be a little bit of a dramatic way to describe it), related to or understood the things I was addressing in my work.  Between all the doubt and frustration I had been experiencing lately, this was really the best thing I could hope for.  And I feel like I got that, as well as just positive feed back in general.  For what ever reason, I found this process much less anxiety provoking than our usual reviews…  Which I told to my committee head.  The way that Stuart ran the reviews was critical, but constructively so.  I sometimes feel that our committee reviews are not so constructive…  But again, that’s my opinion.

IMG_0452
Me being critiqued… Rocking the bright pink blazer my friend convinced me to buy and wear to the SPE conference last month. Her logic for the pink blazer? No one can forget the girl in the brightest, pinkest blazer that ever existed!

 

For some more pics and info you should click HERE!

 

In any event, this was one of the best experiences I’ve had so far in grad school.  It came pretty close to the Guerra de la Paz collaboration last spring…but not quite as awesome!  Speaking of which, I’ve been meaning to show you how the battle scar I acquired during that installation looks now:

Not to terrible, but you can still see the three distinct scars from falling through a chair!  I love it :)
Not to terrible, but you can still see the three distinct scars from falling through a chair! I love it 🙂

Why can’t grad school just be awesome experiences like these?!

On that note… Adios!

Expectations, Monica Cook, Serendipity, & James Elkins…

Sorry I’ve been MIA for so long now…  I’m not joking when I say I barely had time to sleep the last few weeks.

So where did I leave off?  Ah yes.  The performance I am temporarily titling “…expectations lie…”.  You can view a 10 minute video clip of the performance here. The over all performance was about 45 minutes, and I’ve edited the video to reflect that time lapse a little bit. I’m not totally happy with the documentation, but that’s OK.  I plan on recreating this as a video piece in it’s own right.

Anyway, as I discussed before it was my intent for this piece to center around the idea of expectations versus reality and some what self destructive behaviors.  Now that I think back about it, the reason the 500 Days of Summer sequence was sticking in my mind was because it was an example of an internal or mental set up of expectations. Many of my pieces thus far have focused on external physical actions, that didn’t necessarily portray the psychological aspect of what I was attempting to address.  And subconsciously I must  have realized this because as I brainstormed, I began trying to find ways to impede or damage myself mentally.  Well, I came up with the idea to attempt to recite something, flawlessly of course, and for each mistake that I made, I would be forced to take a shot (of vodka).  For me, it was the perfect representation of frustration in action.  Trying to do something, over and over again, but failing each time, and chastising yourself each time, makes it harder and harder to live up to you own expectations.  So I ran with it…even though it seemed like a really bad idea for my liver.  But then again, I didn’t really expect to drink as much as I wound up drinking…

 
I won’t bore you with the exact details, but it took me almost a week to come up with something appropriate for the recitation…I finally settled on an excerpt from a book entitled Art and Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland.

It’s the tiny bit at the bottom of page 34 through to the second full paragraph on page 35.  To be completely honest, I’m still not 100% happy with what I chose, as it’s a bit too theoretical and screams “Art!”  I am still looking for something more subtle and applicable to all types of expectations, not just the ones that relate to art making.  But it served it’s purpose well.

I also developed this idea about having an on going internal monologue calling out my mistakes and generally telling me how worthless I am.  It worked pretty well… You can see/hear the results for yourself on the video.  Here’s a few stills if your too lazy to watch or you’re like me and your internet is too slow.

Over all, I’m really pleased with the way the performance turned out.  My anxiety level was pretty high as I planned this, and it reached extreme levels as I started the performance (You can totally tell at the beginning of the video…It’s pretty funny actually).

The fantastic thing for me however, was that a few days before the performance occurred, and I was lucky enough to have a studio visit with an amazing artist named Monica Cook.  In much of her work she has this play between chaos and control going on, so I was looking forward to talking with her about that.  My visit with her was completely beyond my wildest dreams!  She was really supportive of the ideas I was using, and liked the performance I had planned.  Her encouragement really helped me get over some of that anxiety and just do the darn thing.  It was fan-tastic.  I wish I would have remembered to record it… I totally forgot to turn on the audio record app thingy on my phone.  😦

I also had this really great conversation with her about serendipity and deja vu.  Just the day prior, all my notebooks that I keep my research, brainstorming, and notes for teaching in got soaking wet somehow and the pens I use are most decidedly not water safe…

I really kind of freaked out.  To say that I was distraught would be an understatement, and I had actually gotten so upset I threw away my notebooks.  I didn’t even know what to do.  But then as the night progressed and I thought about it, there was something to these notebooks.  Even Eric thought I should do something with them.  So I went the next morning and rescued the notebooks from the trash can in the photo lab.  I showed them to Monica during my studio visit and she agreed that I needed to use them to create.  We discussed how water keeps popping up in my work, and this so called destruction was actually serendipity pointing me on my way.  We both look at serendipity and deja vu the same way… that it means you are on the right track and things are good.  Its funny to me though, that water is somehow finding it’s way into my work.  It may sound odd, but I’ve always felt a very definite connection to water, even as a child.  I loved hearing it rain, and being on beaches, things like that.  To go all astrological on you, I’m sure it’s somehow related to the fact that I am a Sagittarius, which is a fire sign.

In any event, I’ve been playing around with these pages for a few weeks now.  But I’m still not sure what they will become.  I’ve shot some photos, and I’m also working on a related video.  Both are still in an awkward, undefined stage, but I’ll share the photos, as the video is completely incoherent right now.

I don’t know what I’m going to do with these, as just photographing these objects seems too easy… I also think I just like the original object more.  But that might be my own biases.

I’ll talk more about this later maybe, but the other happening that kept me from writing, was that James Elkins came as a visiting scholar to FSU.  I was on the planning committee for that and so spent a day driving him around, which was pretty cool.  I also got a studio visit with him, which again was a great experience.  I DID remember to record that one.  🙂

One of the things Elkins said to me about my work was that I needed to find more of a grey area…  Where the topics of success and failure are not so clearly defined.  I think this is really great feedback, but I’m not sure how to do this.  He also got me thinking about how I define perfection, or the opposite of failure.  Elkins pointed out that to understand the failure, I should try to understand what perfection is.  I don’t have an answer for that right now, but it’s something that is rolling around in my head currently.

So… Busy times here in the studio.  Lots of studio visits, lots of thinking, and lots of experimenting with stuff…  Right now, I’m waiting for my committee to come in and do reviews once again.  Although, apparently only one of my committee members is going to be present. And I even showered, put on nice clothes AND make-up.  Yeesh.  Its OK, I get to do it again in a month.  Wish me luck!

Art & Fear belongs to the aforementioned authors.  All of the photos in this post are mine, but the images from my performance were taken by Samantha Burns.

This Will Have to Tide You All Over for Now…

Hey imaginary followers!

I’ve been meaning to sit down and write a post, but many things have taken place in the last few weeks that have gotten in my way.  Like WordPress crashing and my half written blog post disappearing into the digital ether…  But the bottom line is that I still don’t have a blog post ready for you, and unfortunately I don’t have the time to write a good one…  So in the mean time I present to you a pictoral version of my last two weeks.  Feel free to write your own captions or stories to go along.  It might be funnier/more interesting this way!

monica cook

Ellen Mueller

I swear I’ll get a real post out about what’s going on in the studio pictures as well as my most recent performance… It just won’t happen til the beginning of next week.  There is SO much going on right now!

Most of the images are mine, or are borrowed from the web.  Paintings from Monica Cook, performance stills from Ellen Mueller (except the ones of me…those are mine, fair and square).  Books from respective authors/publishing companies.  Fountain logo property of Fountain Art Fair, Working Method Contemporary logo property of Working Method Contemporary Gallery.  Did I miss anything?  I hope not.  If I did I’m sorry, and IT DOES NOT BELONG TO ME, IT BELONGS TO YOU.

When We Last Met…

The last post I wrote before I fell off the face of the earth was about the collaboration FSU’s grad students did with Guerra de la Paz and how I risked life and limb in the process of installation…Well here are the pictures of the final installation, Thicket!!!!  Yaaaaaaaaaaaaay!

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Now, for some absurd reason, while I have literally hundreds of pictures of the installation process, I have none of the final product, SO, I borrowed these from the Guerra de la Paz blog, http://www.guerradelapaz.blogspot.com/.  I did not take them, they are not my images, blah blah blah… I would never dream of stealing anything from those wonderful gents!  There is also more information on their website, http://www.guerradelapaz.com/index2.html.

The opening that Friday was fantastic, and I got the opportunity to go out to dinner with them as well as a few faculty and other MFAs that night.  Totally awesome.  My husband came and met up with us as well, and he took the chance to pick their brains about found materials and the like.  He was completely excited because in his words “They validated everything I had been doing.”  Super sweet!

Battle Scars Make Art Stars (Subtitled: Risking Life and Limb for Internationally Famous Artists)

An in-progress shot: Thicket

Today was a good…no, great, day.  Seriously. I got to risk life and limb for an internationally famous artist duo.  Not really, but that’s what I’m going to tell people in the future when I show them my battle scars, because really, the true story isn’t that exciting…You’ll see.

Part of what I was going to post last night, was that this week, the artist duo, Guerra de la Paz are working with the MFA students at my university to create a collaborative installation piece at a local gallery.  If you are not familiar with their work, then please check them out!

Now, to be perfectly honest, I was not so excited about going to help out today at the gallery.  For many reasons, including the fact that I am currently in a funk over my own art (another aspect of last night’s disappearing post), and a previous visiting artist event that was somewhat disappointing, I just wasn’t in the mood.  And sometimes when it’s supposed to be a collaborative thing, the visiting artist either takes it over and dictates everything, or gives an idea and the students do all the work.  In any event, I wasn’t expecting too too much today. I thought to myself, “Oh, I’ll go for a few hours, make an appearance, then cut out.  I need to go to class tonight, and then I have work to do myself…”  And don’t get me wrong, I really dig their work, but you never know when it come to students working with famous artists…

Oh.  I had no idea what the day had in store for me!

I got to the gallery with a friend of mine and we started working a little before the artists showed up.  As they started interacting with other students, I was listening to what they were saying, and they were so totally focused on making this project happen. They were saying that they felt they were over booked, being taking to classes, and going to meet and greets…(All things that my friend and I had been thinking/talking about over the weekend…) and that they weren’t here for social hour, but to put on a show.  AH-Mazing.  They were so dedicated to making sure that this project took precedence over all the crazy unimportant stuff!  They canceled a meet and greet that was supposed to happen tonight at a wine bar in town so that they could stay and work late at the gallery with the students, and were completely open to suggestions and involved in all the different aspects of the work.  Guerra de la Paz want to make this a TRUE collaboration.  So. FUCKING. AWESOME.  They were totally approachable and down to earth, and super funny.  I stayed about 5 hours longer than I had planned, I skipped class!… All because I was enjoying myself so much!

As the night started to wind down, we were working on some “trees” for the installation (The giant crazy looking wood structures in that first pic), and I was standing on a  plastic lawn chair to help a fellow MFA-er screw in a “branch.”  We had had a little pizza party earlier in the evening instead of going out to that meet and greet, and the pizza happened to be from a great local joint that Hubsley likes a lot.  So when the gallery director asked if anyone wanted any before she put it away for the night, I went to turn around and ask her to pull a slice or two for me, when suddenly, I found my self about two feet lower than I had been a second before.  I was so stunned, that it took me a good minute to realize that I had fallen directly through the chair, and landed completely flat on my feet.  Of course everyone was freaking out and asking me if I was OK.  It was another good 45 seconds before I could coherently assess the fact that, yes, I was in one piece and nothing seemed to be damaged.  So I just kind of laughed and said I was fine.  Then some one asked me if my leg was OK, and I looked down at it…and well…

My self sacrificing injury! I particularly enjoy the blood on my pant cuff. It makes it all look so much more dramatic!

Clearly I am fine.  Shortly after that, we closed up shop for the night and all went home.  I bandaged myself in the most logical way possible…

Wound Dressings. Clearly this is the best way to deal with the problem.

And now I am at home, avoiding doing my reading for class on Thursday, feeling fine.  Until tomorrow morning when I wake up with my knees throbbing in pain.  But that’s a problem I’ll deal with then.  😉  I had to laugh though…Alain Guerra asked me if I was OK after I came back from washing up the blood in the bathroom, and then he says “You know, its funny that with all of these dangerous power tools laying around (there were multiple drills and a nail gun being used), you injured yourself on plastic…”  My response was, “Well, if some one were to do it, it would be me!”  Because I am so accident prone.  🙂

Oh, and PS, they saved the broken chair and they want to use it in the piece!